SALT LAKE CITY – A Park City man, who claimed to have access to millions of N95 masks made by 3M and made allegedly fraudulent representations in an effort to sell them, is charged with wire fraud in an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
John Anthony Taylor, 46, did not have the masks, was not an authorized representative of 3M, and attempted to sell the masks to an undercover FBI agent, charging documents allege.
“Rooting out pandemic-related fraud is one the highest priorities for the Department of Justice and my office. Experienced investigators and prosecutors are dedicated to holding accountable those who would use this challenging environment to pad their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.
Taylor is the founder and owner of Positive Marketing, LLC and Wasatch Promotional Products, LLC. 3M Company is Delaware Corporation with its principal place of business in St. Paul, Minn. 3M sells a wide range of products, including N95 masks.
According to documents filed in court as a part of the case, in April 2020, the FBI in Houston, Texas, was contacted by an attorney representing a medical company concerned about an entity purporting to have access to one billion 3M N95 masks. At the time, publicly available information indicated the global production numbers of N95 masks was well below a billion a month.
The FBI opened an investigation that ultimately resulted in an introduction to Taylor in Utah. According to charging documents, an undercover agent made contact with Taylor and asked for documents proving Taylor actually had the masks. Taylor sent an email with a fake purchase order from 3M. 3M has confirmed it has no relationship with Taylor.
According to the indictment, Taylor made a variety of other alleged false representations as a part of his scheme including:
- He was a representative for the 3M company and was authorized to sell its 1860 N95 masks
- Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had recently started to focus on selling masks through his business, Wasatch Promotional Products
- He had contracts for “a million, 30 million, 60 million [masks] for a couple different state governments”
- He had completed several shipments of 3M 8210 masks
- He could broker a deal for 3 million 1860 N95 masks for $5.49 per mask
- He would receive “lot numbers” and show “proof of life” to prove that the order was legitimate
- He had successfully brokered deals with 3M previously
- A purchase order he attached to an email was from 3M
Taylor was initially arrested on a complaint and had an initial appearance in federal court in Salt Lake City on May 4, 2020. He was released on special conditions of supervised release. He was arraigned on the indictment Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty to the wire fraud charge. A three-day trial is set for Nov. 23, 2020, before U.S. District Judge David Sam.
The potential maximum penalty for the charge in the indictment is 20 years in federal prison. Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the case. Special agents of the FBI in Houston, with the assistance of the FBI in Salt Lake City, are conducting the investigation.